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Kelowna  

UBCO engineering students finding solutions to water problems

Students solving water issues

UBC Okanagan engineering students have come out on top in a competition geared towards finding solutions to drinking water-related issues.

Organizers of the 2021 AquaHacking Western Canadian Challenge, hosted by the Okanagan Basin Water Board, chose the SIP Project and Elidigm as first and second place, respectively.

Both winning projects were from young engineers at UBCO.

Three teams pitched their solutions to some of the regions most pressing water issues. Judges and participants voted for final placement and awarding of $45,000 in seed funding, helping teams take their water solutions to market.

The SIP Project won $20,000 to help get their mobile filtration station off the ground. The device takes the form of a gravity filter backpack.

The Eledigm tries to tackle contamination of drinking water in cisterns by developing a hydraulic coupling for water delivery hoses and cistern lid. The UBCO inventors took home $15,000 in seed funding.

Third place went to Eco-Water from the University of Saskatchewan, which won $10,000 in seed money for their project which addresses optimization of wastewater treatment plants.

The top three were also awarded a spot in a local business incubator to help them with their new start-up.

The winning project, the 'SIP Backpack', is designed to clean one litre of contaminated water in five minutes. It's designed to get rid of bacteria, parasites, sediment, and micro-plastic, and reduce odours, according to team member Elana Wood.

“We have learned so much throughout this journey and it has been an amazing, once in a lifetime experience," Wood said. "We are looking forward to the future for Team SIP and are working to bring our product to market to help end water disparity ‘One SIP at a Time!’ Above all, we are so grateful to the AquaHacking network and to all of our mentors and supporters.”

A total of 137 participants formed 21 teams in the competition. Since 2015, eight similar challenges have been held, resulting in 28 start-ups that continue to be active to this day.

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